Police in Denmark have detained four suspected ISIS operatives and seized weapons and ammunition during raids linked to their arrest in Copenhagen.
All four were suspected of breaking Denmark’s terrorism law while in Syria, and were arrested in the Copenhagen area, police said in a statement.
Under Danish terrorism law, ‘letting oneself be recruited to commit acts of terrorism’ is punishable with up to six years in jail.
The police statement read: ‘The suspects have been identified through investigations carried out in close cooperation between the Danish Security and Intelligence Service and Copenhagen police.
‘The arrests took place as part of the effort against people letting themselves be recruited to terror groups in war-torn parts of Syria and northern Iraq.’
Police inspector Poul Kjeldsen later told reporters that ‘at one of the addresses we [searched] today we found some weapons and ammunition’.
A person living at the address had ties to one of Copenhagen’s criminal gangs, police later said.
In the Vejledalen neighbourhood on the city’s southwest outskirts, janitor Michael Harsfort said he was working when ‘suddenly two big cars came in at high speed’.
‘Out poured police officers in camouflage gear with machine guns,’ he told broadcaster TV2.
Local media said one of the apartments searched in another area was linked to a 27-year-old man whose name appeared in leaked documents that were given to Sky News containing information on jihadists who have joined ISIS.
Sky reported last month that a disillusioned former ISIS member had given the channel tens of thousands of documents containing the names, addresses, phone numbers and family contacts of those joining the group.
So far only one returning Syria fighter in Denmark has been charged with joining a terrorist organisation. A preliminary court hearing is scheduled for tomorrow.
‘Since my first day as justice minister it has been crucial for me to ensure that foreign fighters who take part in the armed conflict in Syria and Iraq are held responsible when they return home,’ Justice Minister Soren Pind said on Facebook.
‘I am pleased that the authorities’ efforts now appear to be bearing fruit.’
Europe is on edge after the Paris attacks in November and last month’s bombings in Brussels, both blamed on homegrown militants radicalised and trained by ISIS.
Around 4,000 Europeans have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join extremist groups as foreign fighters, according to a study from the Hague-based International Centre for Counter-Terrorism released last week.
Data from Denmark showed that 125 people had left the country to fight in Syria or Iraq, and that 62 of those were believed to have returned to the Scandinavian country.
The Danish city of Aarhus has drawn international attention for its ‘soft-hands’ approach to battling the radicalisation of young Muslims with social techniques used in gang exit strategies.
A Danish-Palestinian gunman–seemingly inspired by the deadly assault on French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo–killed a filmmaker and a Jewish security guard in twin attacks last year.